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Bike of the Month

April 2018

1914 Excelsior 7TS 

by Charlie Stewart

Floyd did a lot of work refining this 1914 Excelsior before I bought it in 1993. I had been riding an Indian on the pre-16 tours with Floyd and always admired his motorcycle. I told him to let me know if he ever wanted to sell it. He had some health problems and decided not to ride any longer, so he gave me a call.


My Indian was working well at the time, but I really wanted the Excelsior, so I sold some things and bought it. With the grey, red, maroon paint and shiny nickel plating, the early Excelsior showrooms must have been very enticing for new buyers. The cost was $260 when new – I had to pay a little more!!!


The engine was professionally rebuilt in 1986 and still works well. This model, a 7-TS, has 2 speeds and is 61 cubic inches. It is rated at 7 to 10 horsepower, which on modern roads is good for 60 mph. That is fast for an old bike, but the brakes are only good for 20 mph. I use 28” x 3” car tires. They make steering harder, but the tires last a long time. The tires are made in Vietnam, sold by an American company, and come with the sidewalls pre-cracked.


I have made a few improvements, so now I only have to check clearances, gaps, and make sure everything is lubricated. At the beginning of the riding season the magneto gets a couple drops of oil, the fork rockers get new grease, and the chains get lubricated. The intake rocker arms and all the mechanical linkage needs to be lubricated before riding each day. There are three chains, primary, drive, and pedal start/coaster brake.


The starting procedure is slightly harder than pushing a button on your handlebar. When you are ready to fire it up and it is on the stand, the procedure goes like this:

  • Turn on the oil supply

  • Open fuel petcock

  • Tickle the carburetor

  • Choke, if cold

  • Get on the bike

  • Position one pedal to get a good strong down stroke

  • Put transmission in high gear

  • Raise foot boards

  • Retard ignition with left grip

  • Twist throttle in opposite direction to raise exhaust valves

  • Peddle like heck

  • Give it gas which lowers the exhaust valves

  • Advance ignition

  • When it fires, put transmission in neutral and open choke

  • Get off bike

  • Put foot boards back down

  • Apply rear brake to keep rear wheel from spinning

  • Take bike off stand and set in clip on fender

  • Get back on bike, slip into first gear and go.

I have spent my fair share making roadside repairs, and have had a couple of rides in the trouble truck, but this is a great 104 year old motorcycle.

I think Floyd would be happy knowing his Excelsior is still running down the road.

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